Virgin boss reveals first overseas flights

Short-haul overseas routes to Bali and the Pacific will be among the first to resume, Virgin Australia boss Jayne Hrdlicka says. This will be followed by long-haul flights to Japan and the US. The airline plans to resume flights to New Zealand under the trans-Tasman bubble in September despite travellers getting the green light for quarantine-free travel from Monday, April 19. Ms Hrdlicka said Virgin was focused on increasing domestic travel capacity while issues with the bubble were ironed out. “For New Zealand we have committed to and started to schedule flights for September,” she told ABC RN.“But short-haul international, which includes the Pacific Islands and Bali, that is as … soon as the borders open.“Then long-haul international, we are really looking forward to restarting that with a principal focus on Japan and the USA.”Health Minister Greg Hunt this month revealed COVID-19 vaccinations would not guarantee the reopening of Australia’s international border.Ms Hrdlicka would not speculate on when long-haul flights would resume but said international travel was crucial for thr airline to get beyond 80 per cent of operating capacity. On the controversial issue of vaccine passports, Ms Hrdlicka said the airline would wait for the government’s position on outbound travel before making any decisions. “It may be that there are different rules with respect to quarantine that come with vaccination versus no vaccinations,” she said. “We are really confident that we can both keep the (state) borders open, and keep the community safe, while we’re rolling out vaccines.“It is really important for the most vulnerable people to be vaccinated, and particularly those hubs where we’re bringing in international travellers.”Ms Hrdlicka said this would help retain confidence, adding the most important thing for domestic travel is state borders remaining open. Virgin Australia is also boosting its staffing numbers with 370 new cabin crew to be announced on Thursday.Of those, 220 are former long-haul flight attendants or Tiger Air crew, and 150 are new staff.

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